Blockchain is an emerging technology that creates immutable and distributable data records that are shared peer-to-peer between linked database systems. This technology records digital events in a pattern that is not editable or recognizable before it reaches the recipient. This secure data exchange is one of the major reasons why blockchain technology is a favorite of bankers and other industries who care for secure data exchange. Many people have heard about blockchain technology because of its use in cryptocurrency in which Bitcoin can be found. Along with cryptocurrency, blockchain technology has revolutionized many other sectors, but one in particularly which can be transformed using blockchain is healthcare.
Providers are quite optimistic about the adoption of blockchain technology in the healthcare industry and a majority of them believe that in 5 years, all medical professionals and organizations will be incorporating it to perform their daily operations. Here we will discuss some problems of the healthcare industry that can be resolved using blockchain technology.
- Drug Traceability
Circulation of counterfeit drugs is one of the more serious problems in the pharmacology space. According to a research report published by the Health Research Funding Organization (HRFO), 10% – 30% drugs in developing countries are phony. Meanwhile, the U.S. healthcare industry bears an estimated loss of $200 billion annually due to them. Drug counterfeiting not only results in a loss of business, but poses some serious dangers to consumers.
To resolve this problem, pharmaceutical companies could create a private blockchain network in which they record their products from production to distribution. Because all blockchain transactions are time stamped and unalterable, the blockchain is safe from all types of data breaches. Further, the data transparency features of blockchain technology can help to identify the complete path of origin, which could help to eradicate the circulation of fake drugs in the market.
- Clinical Trials & Data Security
Clinical trials are used to analyze the effectiveness of a particular medicine against a specific disease. These tests can be used to prove or disprove a hypothesis. If successful, this typically results in implementation on a larger scale. For this reason, researchers obtain a big amount of data including statistics, test reports, quality reports etc., and then all of this data is analyzed.
Generally speaking, pharmaceutical companies are more interested in recording the results that benefit them so there are instances during clinical trials when researchers hide or modify the collected data to change the outcome to suit their initiatives.
To make the clinical trials more transparent and fair, scientists can use blockchain technology. The immovable nature is a given, which means the records would be unchanged. This will help to record secure, unbiased and transparent clinical trials.
- Patient Data Management
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) strictly regulates the privacy of patient’s data and requires PHI to be totally secure. However, as part of the typical healthcare and system process, a patient is sharing their medical records with different entities. For example, they need to reveal their health information when they visit a provider other than their primary physician, or show their ID while buying medicines.
Blockchain creates a hash for each PHI block which collectively makes a patient ID, and in theory could be the solution to this problem. Blockchain allows the patient to share necessary information with 3rd parties without revealing their identity. Patient can also set a time limit for the third parties to access that information. Furthermore, the patient can also add trusted 3rd parties to decide about the level of sharing of PHI.